In an effort to increase its affordable housing stock, city leaders in Longmont, Colorado are pushing for a law requiring that a certain percentage of new housing projects must have space for median-income residents.
Members of the Longmont City Council say that both a growing population and upped housing prices and rentals are making it increasingly difficult for residents making 60 percent of area median income or less to find adequate housing.
In response, the proposed ordinance would mandate that at least 12 percent of any new development must be set aside for affordable units or space.
As proposed, the ordinance, which at this time is only a draft prepared by city staff, would also cover residents buying homes who are making 80 percent of area median income.
With input from Longmont developers and realtors, the proposed ordinance would allow for developers to opt out of the mandate by paying into a city affordable housing fund $7.90 in fees per square foot.
Developers could also shift the 12 percent mandate from one project to another, or give over to Longmont land that would be equal in value to the required fees.
In a website posting, Barbara Koelzer, the regional government affairs director for the Longmont Association of Realtors, noted that while such inclusionary housing initiatives are “becoming more and more complicated with every discussion, the good news is that the City Council is listening to the concerns of developers.”
Longmont’s population has jumped from just over 71,000 in 2000 to more than 93,000 today. With that boom has come an increase in area rents, which today average out to $1,300 a month, while the average price of a home has gone from $250,000 four years ago to just under $390,000 today.
A final vote by the Longmont City Council on the proposed ordinance is expected to be made on November 27.
By Garry Boulard
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